Friday, June 22, 2018

A Completely Joyful Adventure

Philippians 2:1-2 If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 

What a way to start the summer break off then to take a long-awaited and planned for many months, road trip with my BFF! We snapped our selfie at my front door and we headed for the airport just the next city over from our homes.








My boarding pass said B, hers was C and we ended up unable to sit together on our 3 hour flight to Texas. I found a seat towards the tail end, my friend Christina, up front. I felt a bit down about that, and hoped the flight might be over quickly and/or my book might keep me from boredom. I did end up with a window seat. A clear flight, I looked out the window a lot and wondered what and where we were, if that was the Salton Sea, if below me might be New Mexico...






I sat next to a couple who quickly introduced themselves, Teri and Randy. They informed me that they were off to Dallas to assist Pastor Greg Laurie and the Harvest Crusade happening that weekend at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Last year, over 85,000 people showed up with more standing and listening in the parking lot. They hoped for the same this year. She pointed out to me more friends on the same mission across the aisle and said many more were scattered in the jet.

Wow Lord, I couldn't sit next to my friend, yet You surround me with Your good servants and conversation that glorifies You. So Cool, So You Lord, Thank You. 

I felt assured, encouraged--in going away on an adventure and excited that God provided for me to go with no lose ends at home.

I felt Christ's love when my seatmates asked me to pray with them before the plane landed. We prayed for the Harvest Crusade and they prayed for myself and Christina to enjoy our trip safely and joyfully.

I knew fellowship, being of One Body in Christ with complete strangers, yet...not really strangers after knowing that they served the same God with passion and compassion for the lost. My joy--complete yet waiting for our adventure, complete because of what blessings the Lord gives to me in friendships. Joy because strangers and best friends can share instantly in that sameness, a unity because of knowing God personally and trusting Him.

We left on a jet plane. I found new friends for a brief 3 hours. Along with my forever friend, (we call each other Soul Sisters), we all are intent on one purpose: To fellowship and share our hearts in love and words and find joy in each other, in serving and being served, and in adventure. The Lord moves us to and fro and we cannot be scenery watchers or keep our heads stuck in a downward position, afraid of people or where He may call us to.  His purposes are not seen in the clouds, but sometimes right in the seat next to us, to pray and fellowship and be reminded that it is never about the destination, but more about the journey.

Lord, Thank You for being a God of providence, provision and unity. Thank You Lord for best friends and new friends. Thank You Father for a beautiful world in which to share Your love and hope in. You are a good God intent on filling us with Your Joy, in all our adventures and even in our misadventures.
Help us Lord to continue to see You in our everyday walk through life and live fueled up and ready to soar to new places You plan for us. May we be packed with faith and trust and ready to unpack Your Goodness. Amen.





Monday, June 4, 2018

Spell "One Another" Please


Acts 2:42 “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teachings and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Breaking news: 14 year-old Karthik Nemmani from Texas, won yesterday’s (May 31st) 2018 National Spelling Bee with the word “koinonia.”






What? I came back into my bedroom to listen to the morning news anchors repeating the word, giggling while admitting they didn’t know the meaning much less the spelling of the word. “Well, I looked it up, it means a spiritual gathering of like-minded people,” said one newswoman.

Some words have tremendous power behind them. We hear that every day. Twitter, a popular social media of 140 characters or less, catapults them out 24-7. We watch and see where the direct hits land and the collateral damage. 

…and one 14-year old boy spells ONE word that can change the world. Would you have known it, recognized it--have you experienced it? It is only one word, yet is speaks volumes. 

Koinonia. K.o.i.n.o.n.i.a. Koinonia.

It’s Greek to me. Well, it is Greek, literally. More than just being like-minded, “koinonia” means united for a purpose, devoted to one another, serving one other, praying for one another, honoring one another, encouraging one another towards love and goodness…did you catch all the “one anothers?”

Koinonia results when a true, pure fellowship, authentic and intimate in words and love, takes place with one another because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for every one of us on that Cross. The Holy Spirit manifests Himself through this word. Koinonia cannot be summed up in 140 characters, but in continuing love and action to those who heed the call to be Christ-like and Christ-minded. To those who do not settle for just a salvation story, but want to break bread and trust together for the right words to reflect His glory, koinonia moves mountains. It instills hope, brings healing and spells out the divine purpose, that together as one Body in Christ, great things in love can be accomplished. In each of us as we encourge Koinonia, we learn and grow in our walk with God...and with ONE ANOTHER. 

Now that you know how to spell koinonia, go and discover it, be a part of it, read about it in the Acts and other books of the New Testament.

In gratefulness, Lord, I know that as a Christ follower, I was never meant to be alone in my beliefs and in my growth, but to fellowship with one another, discuss, study, pray, worship and minister together. Thank you Lord for all the opportunities to do that in Your Body of Christ and in koinonia. I hope to share these same experiences out to a broken world. They say a child shall lead them. Thank you Karthik. I pray you too, will know the fellowship of the saints and that God will use this word and your correct spelling of it to enlighten others to a greater calling. Amen. 





Friday, October 27, 2017

A Win-Win

II Corinthians 2:14 "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 




I love the game of baseball. 

Yes, sometimes the game can be a bit slow, but it can be equally as exciting. Each individual player has a specific job to execute and for a brief amount of time during each inning throughout the game, we focus on one player as they do their part to move the game forward. Two individuals delivering and attacking the same ball, one pitching and one hitting. One giving and one receiving, and the support ready to respond in equally talented play and athletic ability. It's a game of strategy and signs, fouls and fair play, hitting, running, throwing and a lot of concentration.

We get to know their faces, their stances and body language and nuances, their choice of gum, seeds or chew.

We see their hair grow into long red strands and bushy beards or cut with patterns. Their stats are repeated and we know the line up.

Take me out to a ball game.  I prefer Chavez Ravine. 






~~~

I love planning and executing the NephCure Walk. Last Saturday, we completed our ninth year of providing this fundraiser for specific kidney diseases, nephrotic syndrome and FSGS. Bloating and retaining fluids, lethargy and immune system compromise, testing strips and biopsis, steroids and side effects and a lot of discouragement--that defines the line-up of these conditions.

Yes, sometimes this project, this endeavor can be tedious, a bit overwhelming and emotional. But, on the day of the event, all that seems to disappear. Teams arrive and each individual player participates to make the few hours we walk and cheer and gather our forces, a win-win. In our efforts, we are delivering hope, cracking the bats of our hearts to put donations over the fence and many more seasons of play for our kiddos with this disease.

My son, Tim..he came out of the game early. Now, we pinch-hit in his memory.

With each walk, I've gotten to know our teams and the children we walk for, Mateo, McKayla and Aiden, Kennedy, Gabi, and Isaiah and more.

Aiden is getting tall! McKayla...so  beautiful.  Then there is Mateo, an adorable reminder of my son at the same age. They come every year, healthier, feeling stronger because new medicines are helping.










I know the stats of a previous game.  I pray that no mom or dad has to watch and worry as their child continuously strikes out in relapses.

In October, Take me to English Spring Park where I will continue to raise awareness and walk for a cure.







Thank You Lord for giving us gifts of athleticism, for personal fitness and to also entertain--cheering for teams that we love. Thank You Lord, I am so grateful to be a member of Your Team and listen to the ways You give me hope and cheer me on. Because of that amazing grace, You guide me and encourage me to keep up the proactive involvement in developing the Inland Empire NephCure Walk. Every year it grows and my faith in You and in my teammates increases as well.  I am excited our Dodgers are in the World Series. I am blessed to complete and celebrate success in my own yearly campaign to save kidneys and save lives. Life is not easy, but with You God as my Manager, leading me to see things in an eternal perspective, I embrace an attitude that in the end, all becomes a win-win forever. Thank You for allowing me to be a team player, not just a spectator. Keep me Lord in the centerfield of Your will. May I be a statistic that magnifies Your glory no matter what position I play. Amen.





CENTERFIELD~ JOHN FOGERTY 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Down But Never Out

Psalm 145:14 "the Lord sustains all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down."

I can hear her correction, her words...how should I say it?  ...to "protect me." 

"Sit up straight."  (slouching is bad for the posture). 

"Pick your feet up!" (shuffling or dragging one's feet slows you down and may cause a fall).

And her most famous one..."You need a little lipstick!" ( Maybe that's why I always have one in my pocket to this day).

Moms always have good intentions, even if their constant repeating gets annoying. (I hope my son realizes that soon). 

So today, and also a few weeks back...I shuffled and you guessed it, I tumbled. 

I fell hard both times. The first time, walking from the hospital to the medical office, ironically for an urgent care appointment for myself! 

A bridge straddled a drainage area and garden and it had a narrow metal grate running across. I caught my flip-flop and down I went, hard on my knees and hands on the concrete. I scraped and bruised both knees, one more that the other, the pain lasting the rest of the summer. 

Urgent care now became about two things. Nothing was broken, except my pride. I will gladly admit though, I can be a klutz. 






Today, at school, in front of the Library, yep, it happened again. Down I went as my foot abruptly stopped on a raised tile area of students names and memories. 

"Coleene, and here is where I fell, September, 2017." 

Between classes, I think no one saw me. I less than graciously, lifted myself up, made sure nothing was broken and hobbled back to my classroom, bleeding and disheveled, eventually making my way to Nurse Lila. She directed me to clean my wound, bandage myself up and maybe some paperwork. 

Now I have to document my blunders!  Ugh! 

Ungraceful at times, we fall. Maybe, it is the sin in our lives that trips us up. It is always when we take our eyes off the One who balances us and leads the way. It hurts, stings, bleeds and bruises up. Our achey hearts and spirit make us difficult--we cannot respond to others who are hurting because we are too focused on our own wounds. 

Maybe sometimes we need to just stay on the ground a bit longer, prostrate and needy, allowing  God to pick us up and sustain us.

 Can you picture that? His arms under yours, gentle and guiding as He wipes our brow and hands us a glass of living water, brushes away the gravel stuck to our wounds and then carries us the distance until we can stand strong once again.





His grace becomes my grace. My grace, given, can help steady another and point to the One who is the Lifter of our heads, the Binder of our wounds, our Healer and Strength-giver. 

Mom, thank you for your wisdom in my outward appearance and posture. Lord, thank You for grace that sometimes allows the fall, but is ready and anxious to pick me up and straighten me out.  Each and every time my own self begins to shuffle, slump and trip over obstacles of this world and the adversary's accusations get under my feet, I know a simple prayer of asking for Your wisdom, Your forgiveness and Your grace will keep me walking with discernment and foresight in all that lies ahead of me.  Lastly, I pray my lips will be ready to proclaim Your goodness to me, in the right shade and shine! Amen. 







    Get Back Up ~ Toby Mac 





                                                         You Lift Me Up ~ The Afters 


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Walking in Love and Faith


Ephesians 5:2 "...and walk in love, just as Christ loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."

"I need my walker."  

I've heard that request quiet a few times in the last 6 weeks. My husband, as some of you know, had his first full knee replacement surgery on June 15th. 












Experiencing a successful surgery, the recovery process even has the professionals a bit baffled. Here is a bit of a timeline...

6/15  Surgery
6/17  Released

In home physical therapy begins. 

7/1  Ted started to feel a lot of pain in his wrist, the opposite side. 
7/2 6:00 a.m. Arrive in emergency, excruciating pain in the wrist area, waiting,  not wanting to go to the ER in the middle of the night.  Using the walker with one hand, it took 45 minutes to get him in the truck because of the pain in his wrist.

We spend almost 12 hours in the E.R. while the doctors examine, take blood, test, poke more, prod, ask questions, consult and then decide. 

Around 6:30 p.m. he's wheeled into surgery again where his wrist, infected inside by something "angry" the doctor would relay, is irrigated and cleaned out, an aggressive treatment to save the knee from being compromised by any infection. 

Now he has a full soft cast on his wrist. 





7/3  Released from hospital. When we arrive at home,  a new "walker" is waiting at our door with a platform for his hand.





7/5  Our regular in-home physical therapist pays a visit and he informs her of a new pain behind his surgical knee. She examines him and finds concern enough to add an ultra-sound to our appointment the next day, a check for clots. 

7/6  I take him back to the hospital to see his regular physician and she sends us to get the ultra-sound. Diagnosis confirmed, 3 blood clots behind the knee. The doctor then orders a cat scan to double check the lungs. Result: a clot in each lung, D.V.T. and P.E. as the acronym goes; ( we know it all too well). He gets a bed on the fourth floor, admitted again, and the protocol for blood clots in sues. 

7/10 Ted gets to come home. Now we have an occupational therapist coming, in home-health professionals coming, his physical therapist still coming because he hasn't been released for out patient yet and blood collectors coming in between fielding phone calls, 
e-mails and pharmacy issues. 

7/25  This last Tuesday, he takes a nice shower (with my help). He probably enjoys it too much, stays in, standing, although his walker is half way in the tub. Finally getting out, I help him maneuver out, the walker always bearing his weight. Only a towel thrown over his backside, he scoots out of the bathroom, stops for a second and complains of dizziness, gets himself to the couch and then passes out. 

I call 911 in a panic, and the first responders arrive quickly. Now alert and cooperating, they take him by ambulance back to the hospital where he is misdiagnosed with pneumonia then correctly diagnosed in the morning. The paramedics were correct, dehydration coupled with the hot shower caused his blood pressure to drop, thus the fainting spell.  

On Monday, 7/31 He finally has his first out patient therapy appointment. By the way, his knee is doing great! The other knee? ...not so much; (the worse one of the two). Is he in a hurry to get that one done? ...not so much. 

"I need my walker." 

I gladly retrieve it for him and open it, allow him to stand and move to where he will rest tonight after another day of recovery, exercising his wrist and knee, while I do all I can to serve him, take care of him, encourage him and listen to him...and sometimes checking myself, capturing my thoughts and giving them over to The Great Healer. 

God has placed a timeline for me as well, although it is one involving my heart issues, my self issues. With each setback, each chore, each need, each time I have to stop what I intend to do or never start at all---to meet his needs, the Lord builds His strength in me as I ask Him to fill me with it. As I have experienced in past heart issues, the prayers of many who surround us in love are felt and doing a mighty work. I have offered my self up to help my husband heal, setting aside a lot of personal projects and a few social events. Those can wait. God's timing and His plans are for Ted to regain his strength and his ability to walk again, to grip again, to return to work. For me, to learn how to serve him in and through this time of need in a summer usually planned for many other activities. We both walk together with the Lord leading the way and we lean into each other in our love and in to Him to carry us through. 

Thank you Lord, for being the wondrous "Walker" I can grasp, hold on to and depend on so I do not fall and stumble over my own selfish desires and worldly needs. Lord, thank you that Your righteousness stands tall above the darkness that wants to trip us up. Help us Lord to desire servant hearts not just towards the ones we love, but for those who need to know Your truth and Your hope. Some of those people are so difficult, so lost, yet they too, need Your care, Your healing power. Thank You Lord for protecting Ted this week and for giving us both strength to continue this journey. In the end, may we look back and proclaim Your glory through it all and know that in our weakness, Your strength becomes evident. 



Walk by Faith 
Jeremy Camp 

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Rule of Love

Psalm 32:8 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."

Rules and instructions are a good thing. They keep us safe, teach us about boundaries and help us live in civilization, and even get rewarded. We all experienced one of these, and/or all, either told by another person or written on how to drive a car, how to put together a book shelf from IKEA, grow a rose, operate the DVR. Today, YouTube is filled with how-to's on just about everything! --And shall I mention Pinterest!

Rules are a bit more serious. They help us obey our parents, keep our job, stay out of jail, and board an airplane safely and securely.


Did you know there were rules to fly a kite?

This week my husband's written instructions were not exactly correct. Facing a serious surgery, he followed what the anesthesiologist wrote, "take all heart meds as usual with a small sip of water." Stopping his .81 aspirin, the only other instruction given a week before at his pre-op appointment, he continued to follow the directions. This might have, probably would have...caused a very serious bleeding problem. Leg shaved and marked up, hospital gown in place, his surgeon went over the instructions and double-checked for accuracy. He caught the mistake.




The body of the story in my manuscript is pretty much complete. I am working on edits and now starting the not so fun job of formatting and preparing it for submission. Rules apply. Today I spent most of the day converting, indenting, changing fonts, eliminating white space and pictures. Tedious indeed! The last thing I want is for my work to be ignored because I didn't follow rules of submission. A special friend and teacher instructs me in this truth.

Another bestie friend practices relentlessly with her partner getting ready to perform a special dance in a musical production on Sunday. There are steps to follow and counts to hear for the swirls and twirls. She has a more difficult time with moving and learning quickly because she is a bit older; she dances with her son! (so sweet).  Oh, if only I could move how she does! Her discipline and passion to dance at her best encourage me to be my best at what I am passionate about. Yet this week she discovered something, a position her elbows were in, affecting her posture when she dances, Now, she must re-learn to keep her elbows back. It is an instruction, a new way of looking at things for improvement. No one will notice her elbows, but she will be thinking about it, wanting to feel at ease with her son and get through the performance flawlessly. I know they will succeed.  *

God gave us instructions. He said, "Love Me, love one another." His rules to live by were given to Moses and the Israelites, the 10 Commandments. If we follow the instructions first, to love God with all our heart and then love one another, the "rules" become natural. We want to follow God and be obedient. But sometimes, instructions get messed up, we break rules, we don't love God as we think we should, we don't love each other very well.



The Holy Spirit counsels us on our mistakes. He renews our instructions in grace and we get a do-over.
When it comes to submitting to God, we can come just as we are. He formats us in all the right places and prepares our story for His glory. When we are practicing the dance of faith, God gently reveals to us our steps and guides us in His wisdom, orchestrating trust in Him, our Lead.


The surgeon, the hospital, rescheduled. A do over. 
My manuscript needs attention and guidelines and in time, it will be ready. A work in progress.
My friend recognized her mistake. She will continue to move and dance despite a slight flaw. A perseverant attitude. 


Lord, we can never be perfect, good enough, follow every rule, know every instruction for living a Holy life. You knew that. It is why You sent Your Son to take our sin away for us. That is a free gift called Grace. Your Word is our instruction manual. Keep me aware of Your ways, Your truth, not some watered down version or worldy advice. Edit out those habits that distract me from obedience. Hold me accountable with like-minded friends who walk alongside me serving You with love and sincere hearts. Thank You for the doctor finding the mistake this week, even though it means waiting. Thank You that I have people in my life who mentor me in my publishing quest. Thank You for friends that inspire me! You are a God who loves us first, Your loving eyes are upon us! Lord, may I love You and love others in a way that pleases You. Every day is a new day to do Your will, follow You and be obedient. Thank You for every new day of Grace. Amen.




Chris Tomlin
I Will Follow 
*

Friday, May 26, 2017

Help Wanted, Help Received, Every Day

Psalm 121:1-2 "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth."

It is almost here! We're on the final approach. Crossing the "t"s and dotting the "i"s,  having conversations, testing, cleaning up, stopping and starting, scheduling, seeing this doc and that P.A., this nurse and that other doc. Questions asked and answered and papers documented, going over the dos and don'ts before, preparing and...PRAYING! 





This date of his full knee-replacement is just around the corner. God, our Helper, knows the plan, and guides us to continue in the everyday while we wait and move forward. He showed us the way while some major things were dealt with. In the waiting, the right doctor came back from a leave of absence, and the date given? Just a few days into summer break, when school is out and I am home. God orchestrated all this. In our waiting and obedience, He lined up the ducks all in a row and they are moving swiftly now up a stream of anticipation of healing and hope. 

Where does our help come from? My help comes from the Lord. Your Will, not mine, for Your glory. 

~~~

A wonderful conference came together with volunteers and church staff support. I doubted my abilities, but never God's. I gave it to Him, dedicating the day to my mentor and dear friend and prayed for our purpose. Placing the day at His feet, my eyes gazed upon the beauty of my garden and knew from seeds planted and deep roots, My Helper never fails me. He knows my weaknesses and in them He is glorified. 

Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord. You are a Mighty God!




A gathering family, ready to celebrate and regroup--love one another, but news breaks--a difficult situation. Not the expected, yet even in the next few hours, God's indwelling Spirit gives grace, spoken in gentle words and support, unity and hope. Yes, the processing happens but God, already at work, places the right people before and after reassuring in the pain and confusion. He rises above and His magnificence shines and we KNOW because He does a mighty work in us everyday! A vacancy appears and only One can best fill it. The Spirit lifts eyes and hearts and hears the prayers. In this Lord, You will be glorified. In this, we thank You. 

Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord. Great and gracious are You, Lord. 




Lord, everyday our own little world brings challenges. Everyday, I look to You, to trust that You are much bigger, omniscient and omnipresent just for me and my circumstances.   Every day Lord, growing closer to You sometimes comes in waiting. Everyday Lord, I need a Helper. Everyday Lord, Your promises guide every step in the waiting, revealed in the doing and glorified in the giving over. You Lord, are the Maker of Heaven and Earth! You know the future and in that I lift my eyes, trust You and keep praying for Your wisdom and strength. I am living in a broken world...I am broken, yet You see me blessed as I strive and call on Your Name, hire You as my Helper, wait on Your answers, feel Your Winds of direction and encourage others waiting and hoping as I am, together, believing that You make all things good in Your perfect timing. Thank You Lord for being our Helper, then and now and always. Amen. 







                          
Praise You in the Storm
Casting Crowns